The Mabati-Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature has announced the 2021 shortlisted manuscripts.  

The Prize is supported by Mabati Rolling Mills of Kenya, ALAF Tanzania  (subsidiaries of the Safal Group), The Office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs at Cornell University, the Africana Studies Center at Cornell University and the Ngugi wa Thiong’o Foundation. 

The Mabati Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature was founded in 2014 by Dr. Lizzy Attree and Dr. Mukoma Wa Ngugi to recognize writing in African languages and encourage translation from, between and into African languages. 

Abdilatif Abdalla, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Mabati-Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature, while announcing the nominees, said its judges undertook a rigorous exercise to select the best shortlist across different entry categories.  

He expressed satisfaction in the high caliber of submissions that value and promote African literature. “The quality of work submitted and breaking of geographical barriers to take literature work beyond African borders is a strong statement that African literature continues to grow dramatically in quantity and in recognition,” said Abdilatif Abdalla during the announcement. 

Mabati-Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature judge Dr. Joseph Nyehita Maitaria, Chairperson of the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Karatina University answers to questions at the shortlisting event held at The Sarova Stanley

The 2021 prize judging process is being undertaken by Prof. Aldin K. Mutembei, Dr. Salma Omar and Dr. Joseph Nyehita Maitaria. 

The shortlist for the one-off 2021 special prize for youth writing science fiction and speculative fiction in Kiswahili, the Nyabola Prize, targeting writers aged between 18 and 35, was announced on November 17, 2021. 

The shortlisted works and authors are: 

Fiction; Kirusi Kipya and Halfani Sudy, Bweni la Wasichana by Lucas Lubango and Kido Kanzu ya Ukubwa by Hafidh Athumani. 

Poetry; Chemchemi Jangwani by Moh’d Omar Juma, Malenga Wa Masasi by Msusa Mohamedi Msusa and Sinaye Baba by Mfaume Hamisi Mfaume 

Play; Sinaubi by Mbwana Kidato 

Overall winners will be announced at the awards ceremony slated for 27th January 2022 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. 

Kiswahili Prize Award Criteria: The prize will be awarded to the best unpublished manuscript or book published within two years of the award year across the categories of fiction, poetry and memoir, and graphic novels. The total proposed awards of 15,000 US dollars will be divided as follows: 

1st Fiction/Non-fiction prize – USD 5,000 

1st Poetry prize – USD 5,000 

Runner-up Prize any genre– USD 2,500 

In addition to the prizes, winning entries will also be considered for publication by East African Education Publishers in Kenya and Kiswahili by Mkuki na Nyota Publishers in Tanzania while the winning poetry will be translated to English and published by the Africa Poetry Book Fund.